Controversial Barbie Film Sparks Bans and Criticism in Arab World


The Barbie movie has been prohibited in Kuwait and is facing demands for a ban in Lebanon, amidst criticism within the Arab world over the movie’s societal values.

Kuwait took action to safeguard “public morals,” as stated by the state news agency. The culture minister of Lebanon accused the film of “promoting same-sex relationships.”

However, the blockbuster continues to be screened in conservative nations in the region, including Saudi Arabia.

Since its release, the film has generated over $1 billion in global revenue within a few weeks.

Lafi al-Subaiei, the head of Kuwait’s film classification board, mentioned that typically, the board requests the removal of scenes from movies that contradict the country’s culture.

Nevertheless, when these scenes endorse behavior deemed unacceptable by the state, they are outrightly prohibited.

A spokesperson from the Kuwaiti Ministry of Information stated that the film “propagates ideas and beliefs that are foreign to Kuwaiti society and public order.”

Lebanese Culture Minister Mohammad Mortada urged the interior ministry on Wednesday to “take all necessary measures to prohibit” the Barbie film.

He asserted that the movie “advocates for same-sex relationships and gender identity changes… undermines and belittles the role of parents, particularly mothers, and raises doubts about the importance of marriage and starting a family.”

Subsequent to Mr. Mortada’s call, Lebanese interior minister and state judge Bassam Mawlawi called on the country’s censorship committee to assess the film.

The Shia Islamist movement Hezbollah supports the minister’s stance. Last month, its leader warned that homosexuality posed an “immediate threat” to Lebanese society and urged authorities to forbid activities that promote it.

This development takes place in the midst of “a surge of intolerance” in the nation, stated Ayman Mhanna, executive director of the Samir Kassir Foundation, a Lebanese human rights organization, in an interview with Reuters news agency.

Ms. Mhanna noted, “This is part of a larger campaign that aligns Hezbollah, the Christian far right, and other prominent religious figures in a targeted effort against LGBT individuals.”

Additionally, the film has faced censorship issues in other regions, including Vietnam, due to a depiction of a disputed Chinese territorial claim in the South China Sea on a map.

Featuring Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken, the movie narrates the story of the iconic character’s journey towards self-discovery, encouraging fellow dolls from Mattel Inc to embrace their uniqueness.

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